Tonight, we’re getting serious with some serious beer and some serious film history. We’re drinking North Coast’s universally loved Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout while watching the 1925 classic Russian propaganda film Battleship Potemkin, directed by the typically dense Sergei Eisenstein. And while I know that Rasputin’s time was much earlier than the days of the Soviet Revolution, the two bits of culture seemed a natural fit. And I was not disappointed.
Now, most of you have probably heard of Battleship Potemkin but have never seen it, nor do you know anything about it. And, for the most part, that’s fine. It’s typically a film reserved for film students, along with Eisenstein’s more graphic and…interesting film Strike. However, I would put money down that you are all familiar with one specific scene that is about as iconic as they come. Ever seen a movie in which a baby carriage roll down a set of stairs? Yeah. That’s from Battleship Potemkin. There are probably a dozen or more films that directly reference this scene, known as The Odessa Stairs. Relatedly, there are probably another dozen or so films that show a person getting shot in the eye which is also from the same scene in Battleship Potemkin. Anyway, is this Communist propaganda film enjoyable or, at best, understandable? Actually, it’s both. While director Sergei Eisenstein is known for his very intense opinions on the purpose of cinema and the art of editing (collision editing, as many call it now), this film is relatively straightforward. While there are plenty of excessive shots that repeat information to the audience, tension is built fairly effectively. And though the translated subtitles are clunky, the story is pretty easy to follow even without dialogue: disgruntled sailors join the workers of Odessa in defiance of the Czar’s tyranny. Sure, at times, it’s great to see the hypocrisy of the film in the light of history (how dare the Russian army kill one of its own!…Clearly no Communist would do this during WWII…) but I love watching propaganda films. They shed so much light on how a nation viewed itself or, at the very least, how a nation wished it looked. Either way, the film is quite a bit of fun from a historical sense. It’s definitely not a great crowd-pleaser, nor is it a first date movie, but for you budding cineastes out there, it’s definitely worth the viewing.
So let’s move onto tonight’s second classic: North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. This 9% ABV bad boy pours black as night. Literally. It’s impeccably black in color with a thick, caramel-colored head that just invites you to take a drink. Giving off a strong aroma of roasted malt, this beer goes down smooth and leaves you with a delicious, warming sensation that just makes you smile. For those who like darker beers, this one is unparalleled. Just one sniff and you’ll be sold. And even for those who aren’t into the heavier beers, Old Rasputin is fairly approachable. Maybe you wouldn’t drink the whole thing yourself, but its lack of bitterness and smooth finish make it very easy to drink. Simply put, this is a great beer and I would recommend that you try it. Still don’t believe me? Check out G-LO’s review of Old Rasputin over at It’s Just The Booze Dancing for a second opinion. All the guys over there sound smarter than me anyway, so I assume they know what they’re talking about.
Oh, in an unrelated story, you should watch the video below. Skip to 1:00 and enjoy some Russian history.
Alright so that about does it for tonight. Classic Russian cinema, classic Russian-inspired beer and…classic…Russian-themed…funk? Not too sure about that last one. Anyway, I wasn’t too sure how this night would turn out. I was nervous going into Battleship Potemkin, as similar films can be dry, boring and slow. However, with a great beer in hand, this film was a pleasant surprise. It was enjoyable and educational. The best kind of evening.
HEADS UP NEWS FLASH BREAKING STORY ALERT: BAAM and We Recycle Movies will be doing a Valentine’s day themed crossover review next Friday. We will be watching some awful movies and drinking some beers that I have never tried, so it’ll definitely be a lot of fun. So stay tuned for that!
Keep drinking, my friends!
Easy to follow, despite bad translating
Iconic piece of cinematic history
Unabashedly propaganda. Is there any other kind?